Hurple Hoopla

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Break

In the grand, immortal words of the Beatles, "Christmastime is here again, O U T spells out," and that means this esteemed blogger will be taking a week, or so, off. If you're wondering where I'll be, I'll be here:

with my family, celebrating Christms. After that maybe I'll visit some friends and celebrate Saturnalia. Anyway, if you'd like a little peek into the ways that my family and I celebrate the season, here's an artist's intrepretation:


I'll be back before you know it (or want it), with lots of new ideas and fresh commentaries (Ha! Right!). Meanwhile, to everyone in America I hope you all have a happy and joyous Holiday Season, and by that I mean both Christmas and New Year's and do not mean it as some kind of secular commie leftist attack on Christmas you mindless lemming ditto-heads, I just typed it that way to save my fingers the extra workout of typing both Merry Christmas and Happy New Year... D'OH!

For all my English friends, you have something much, much more important than Christmas or New Year's to celebrate... That's right! You'll be celebrating the return of


I envy you all!

So, I'll sign off now, and go wrap presents. But, I do want to leave you all with one final thought

Friday, December 23, 2005

Pete Townshend: Gold

Since I declared yesterday a day of mourning because it was the day (in history) on which Kenney Jones joined The Who, I decided that today I would cover yet another reason for mourning... Pete Townshend's solo career.

I kid, I kid.

Well, mostly.

Pete Townshend has recorded only 6 proper solo albums during / after his stint with the Who. Of those, one was a collaboration with Faces bass player Ronnie Laine, one was a "radio play" with music, and one was a collection of songs for a Broadway musical he was attempting to sell. In addition, he also released 3 double-albums of demo material, a 6-disc box of Lifehouse material, yet another collection of demos, Who Came First, and two live albums.

From this ungodly mish-mash of sources Hip-O compiled the 2-disc "Best of" package Gold. Now, there is some fantastic work on display in this set, "English Boy," "Secondhand Love," "Let My Love Open The Door," "Slit Skirts," "Rough Boys," "Give Blood," "Crashing By Design," and "Don't Try to Make Me Real" are all wonderful, powerful songs. However, the compilers mixed the actual, proper, in studio solo recordings with the sonically inferior, garage-produced demo material and over-produced, guest-star laden "Broadway" material to create a set that, while being a good overview of Townshend's entire solo output, is a very unsatisfying listen as a coherent set.

Maybe a better idea would have been one disc all "proper" material, and one disc demo material. Maybe an even better idea would be two separate releases Gold and Gold: Demo.

In addition, in order to fill the running time of 2-discs, some rather questionable material was chosen. Who would ever consider "I Won't Run Anymore," "Outlive The Dinosaur," "Keep on Working," "All Shall Be Well," or "I Am Afraid" as at all representative of Townshend's best? It is especially troubling when there are a few great never-before-released-on-CD b-sides that could have been utilized to fill out the set, like "Dance It Away."

So, what could have been the definitive set to summarize Pete Townshend's career outside The Who, is instead a maddening head-scratcher, and only an average collection, at best. Here's a link to the collection at Amazon: Pete Townshend: Gold, so you can look at the track listing for yourself. Here's how I would resequence, recompile the set to be Definitive:

Disc 1:

1. Give Blood
2. Rough Boys
3. Heart To Hang Onto
4. The Sea Refuses No River
5. Don't Try To Make Me real
6. Face The Face
7. Let My Love Open The Door
8. Secondhand Love
9. Dance It Away (B-Side)
10. Keep Me Turning
11. Slit Skirts
12. Crashing By Design
13. Uniforms
14. My Baby Gives it Away
15. Now And Then
16. Misunderstood
17. A Little Is Enough
18. English Boy

Disc 2:

1. Let's See Action
2. Time Is Passing
3. Pure And Easy
4. Dirty Water (From Scoop)
5. Sheraton Gibson
6. Relay (from The Lifehouse Chronicles)
7. I Am Afraid
8. Never Ask Me (from Another Scoop)
9. Baroque Ippanse (from Another Scoop)
10. Drowned (live) (from Pete Townshend Live: A Benefit for Maryville Academy)
11. I'm One (live) (from Pete Townshend Live: A Benefit for Maryville Academy)
12. Save It For Later (live) (from Pete Townshend's Deep End Live)
13. Barefootin' (live) (from Pete Townshend's Deep End Live)
14. Who Are You (live) (from The Lifehouse Chronicles)
15. Parvardigar

There! Overall, I believe that is a much better representation of the best of Townshend's various solo projects arranged in an order that won't incur whiplash in the listener. The hits are there, there's a nice selection of the best of his demos, even a few live performances and covers.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Chris Thomas King: The Roots

I love this guy (in a manly sort of way). I love his voice. I love his songwriting. I love his covers. I love his innovations with the blues. I love when it's just him and his guitar performing an old blues chesnut. And, I love this album.

On this CD, it's just Chris Thomas King, his guitar and a mix of classic songs from Leadbelly, Robert Johnson, and others mixed with a few Chris Thomas King originals. The best part may be how King originals, like "John Law Burned Down The Liquor Store," mix so effortlessly with nearly 80 year-old material from Leadbelly and Robert Johnson. The performances on this album are miles away from those on his Hip-Hop Blues album, and the fact that Chris Thomas King can pull both off with equal conviction and ability is amazing. For a large paercentage of the modern blues-buying public Keb Mo' may be considered the vanguard artist of the genre, but give me Chris Thomas King and his far more impassioned performances anyday.

This may not be the best album from one of the "modern" blues best artists, but it is the one that best showcases his deep love and devotion to the traditional while also spotlighting some of his very best self-penned material. Overall, this is a great primer in Chris Thomas King's talents, although if you move from this album directly to Dirty South Hip Hop Blues or It's A Cold-Ass World you might be thrown for a loop by their more modern approach (as the titles hint). Better to follow up this album with The Red Mudd Sessions or Me, My Guitar and The Blues which are more traditional blues performances.

Final Note: Chris Thomas King was a proud inhabitant of New Orleans. Here you can read about his flight from the city during the build-up to Katrina, and his life since leaving.

This is a cool CD!

This Day In History

On this day in 1978 -- Kenny Jones becomes the Who's drummer

So, it's a day of mourning, then?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Los Lobos: Kiko

Very few albums turn me from an indifferent listener to a fanatic fan of any artist. This, however, is one of those.

Back in the day, when I used to live in Nashville, Tennessee, I lived near a record store. In fact, it was the one in which fellow-blogger Michael worked. When this album was released the store received multiple promotional copies. As a "reward" for the store's most faithful customers, the manager decided to give the multitude of promotional copies to those patrons. Needless to say, I was one of those patrons. (Otherwise, I wouldn't waste time telling the story, now, would I?)

I knew of Los Lobos from their minor 80's hit "Shakin' Shakin' Shakes," and their work on the soundtrack to La Bamba but never thought of them as more than just a fun little tex-mex rock 'n' roll outfit. How wrong I had been.

From the first note of the first song, I fell in absolute head-over-heels love with this album, and this band. Combining a love of Mexican culture, traditional Mariachi music, and flat-out kick-ass rock 'n' roll with amazing musicianship and fantastic songwriting, this band is one of this country's undiscovered treasures. And this album is their undeniable masterpiece. This is the pinnacle of everything this band has ever attempted. Every influence and every ounce of instrumental ability are combined with the absolute perfect set of songs, all engineered with absolute precision. The album is progressive while still being traditional, pure rock 'n' roll while still retaining a folksy sheen, and completely modern while still touching eternal themes. Perhaps, I seem to be overdoing it with the accolades, but how can I exaggerate perfection?

Just listen to "That Train Don't Stop Here," "Wicked Rain," "Kiko and The Lavender Moon," or "Peace" to hear a band at the absolute peak of their ability. Never before and never after have the Lobos boys' abilities, talents and material meshed so perfectly into such a gorgeous piece of art.

This band in general, and this album in particular are criminally overlooked by the general public.

Buy this album, and you too can be one cool cat.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Warren Zevon: Genius

This album is named Genius. That is completely appropriate!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Favorites - The Who

I love to go through my CD collection and make my own "Best Of" compilations for each artist. When I do that, I try to take my time and do it as best I can. Here are the steps I go through, usually.

1. Rip EVERY track off EVERY CD from the artist in question.

2. Sample EVERY track ripped to widdle down the final tracklist.

3. Edit beginnings / endings of tracks where necessary, to fix fade edits and dump secret hidden bonus tracks and things like that.

4. Normalize, balance and whatever else necessary to get volumes matching.

5. burn the discs

Every once in awhile, I'll post the tracklist for some of the "Favorites" discs I've made. Today, I am going to do that for The Who set I made.

Now, I do have a 4-disc version of this set, where I added all the tracks that I love from these guys, however, I wanted something more compact (2 discs) for having at work or loaning to friends. So, this is it (for now):


01. Here 'Tis (Maximum R&B boxset)

02. Leaving Here (My Generation (Deluxe Edition))

03. I Can't Explain (stereo mix from My Generation (Deluxe Edition))

04. Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere (alternate vocals - stereo mix from My Generation (Deluxe Edition))

05. A Legal Matter (stereo mix - no overdubs from My Generation (Deluxe Edition))

06. The Kids Are Alright (long version - stereo mix from My Generation (Deluxe Edition))

07. My Generation (mono mix from My Generation (Deluxe Edition))

08. Magic Bus (rare stereo mix from The Ultimate Collection British release)

09. Substitute (The Ultimate Collection British release)

10. Summertime Blues (single mix recreated from Live at Leeds 1995 remaster)

11. Young Man Blues (rare studio recording from Tommy Deluxe Edition)

12. Dogs, Part 2 (b-side from Tommy Deluxe Edition)

13. Let's See Action (Nothing Is Everything) (The Ultimate Collection British release)

14. The Relay (Maximum R&B boxset)

15. Goin' Mobile (Who's Next Deluxe Edition)

16. Baby Don't You Do It (unreleased from Who's Next 1995 remaster)

17. Love Ain't For Keeping (unreleased Pete vocal version from Odds & Sods 1995 remaster)

18. Time Is Passing (Odds & Sods 1995 remaster)

19. Naked Eye (Odds & Sods 1995 remaster)

20. Won't Get Fooled Again (Who's Next Deluxe Edition)


01. Baba O'Riley (Who's Next Deluxe Edition)

02. My Wife (Who's Next Deluxe Edition)

03. Behind Blue Eyes (Who's Next Deluxe Edition)

04. Join Together (The Ultimate Collection British release)

05. The Real Me (Quadrophenia 1995 remaster German release)

06. I'm One (Quadrophenia 1995 remaster German release)

07. 5:15 (Quadrophenia 1995 remaster German release)

08. Drowned (Quadrophenia 1995 remaster German release)

09. Slip Kid (Who By Numbers 1995 remaster)

10. However Much I Booze (Who By Numbers 1995 remaster)

11. Had Enough (original mix (Who Are You MFSL gold release)

12. Who Are You (Who By Numbers 1995 remaster)

13. I Like Nightmares (Face Dances 1995 remaster)

14. Athena (It's Hard 1995 remaster)

15. One At A Time (It's Hard 1995 remaster)

16. Why Did I Fall For That (It's Hard 1995 remaster)

17. Cry If You Want (It's Hard 1995 remaster)

18. Eminence Front (It's Hard 1995 remaster)

One final note on this set… Disc one is a wonderful example, pretty much from start to finish, of what kind of monster the Who could be at their best. Moon and Entwistle are clearly the stars of that disc.

I Like Monkeys

Here's another one of thos strange little stories that circulates on the 'net from time to time. I like this one too.

Quite simply put, I like monkeys.

Oh happy day!! The pet store was selling them for five cents a piece. I thought that was odd since they were normally a couple thousand. I decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth. I bought 200. I like monkeys.
I took my 200 monkeys home. My Corolla seated them all comfortably. I was
suprized. I let one drive. His name was Sigmund. He was retarded. In fact, none of them were really bright, probably why I got such a good deal. They kept punching themselves in their genitals. I laughed. Then they punched my genitals. I stopped laughing.

I herded them into my room. They didn't adapt very well to their new environment. They would screech, hurl themselves off of the couch at high speeds and slam into the wall. Although humorous at first, the spectacle lost its novelty halfway into its third hour.

Two hours later I found out why all the monkeys were so inexpensive: they all died. No apparent reason. They all just sorta' dropped dead. Kinda' like when you buy a goldfish and it dies five hours later. Damn cheap monkeys.

I don't know what to do. There were 200 dead monkeys lying all over my room,on the bed, in the dresser, hanging from my bookcase. It looked like I had 200 throw rugs.

I tried to flush one down the toilet. It didn't work. It got stuck. Then I had one dead, wet monkey and 199 dead, dry monkeys.

I tried pretending that they were just stuffed animals. That worked for a while, that is until they began to decompose. It started to smell real bad.

I had to pee but there was a dead monkey in the toilet and I didn't want to call the plumber. I was embarrassed.

I tried to slow down the decomposition by freezing them. Unfortunately, there was only enough room for two monkeys at a time so I had to change them every 30 seconds. I also had to eat all the food in the freezer so it didn't all go bad.

I tried burning them. Little did I know my bed and wall were flammable. I had to extinguish the fire.

Then I had one dead, wet monkey in my toilet, two dead, frozen monkeys in my freezer, and 197 dead, charred monkeys in a pile on my bed. The odor wasn't improving.

I became agitated at my inability to dispose of my monkeys and to use the bathroom. I severely beat one of my dead, charred monkeys. His arms snapped off. I felt better.

I tried throwing them away but the garbage man said that the city was not allowed to dispose of charred primates. I told him that I had a wet one. He couldn't take that one either. I didn't bother asking about the frozen ones.

I finally arrived at a solution. I gave them away as a gift. My roomate didn't know quite what to say. He pretended that he liked them but I could tell he was lying. Ingrate. So, I punched him in the genitals until his arms snapped off.

I still like monkeys...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Other Lives

Yesterday, I started to review the latest Big Finish release, Doctor Who: Other Lives. However, I wrote so much about the history of Big Finish that I never actually got around to reviewing the story. I'll rectify that today.

"Other Lives" is the 77th release in Big Finish's line of Doctor Who audio adventures. It is also one of the most low-key, being mostly a straight historical drama. The Doctor lands the TARDIS in the Crystal Palace during the Great Exposition of 1851, as a favor to one of his companions, Charlotte, because she's "always wanted to see the Great Exposition." The Doctor's other companion, C'Rizz, stays aboard the ship, he's a humanoid reptilian alien, as his appearance might cause a stir.

While exploring the Crystal Palace, The Doctor and Charley get separated, as they always do. Charley meets the Duke of Wellington and they quickly become friends. Meanwhile the Doctor is ejected for not having a ticket. Charley returns to the TARDIS, only to find the Doctor is missing. She and C'Rizz leave the ship (stupid idea there, but necessary for the plot, I guess) to look for him. They split up with C'Rizz searching outside while Charley searches inside. The Doctor, though, has managed to raise the funds to buy a ticket (by street hustling via the "shell game") and goes back inside to the TARDIS. When he arrives, he finds a French couple admiring his ship. They turn out to be French royalty, and the Doctor stops an assassination attempt by hustling them into the TARDIS. After dispatching the assassin, the Doctor goes to hustle the pair out of his ship when it suddenly disappears. At that moment the authorities arrive. The Doctor is arrested.

While searching for the Doctor, Charley again meets the Duke who's looking for the French couple who were in his charge. C'Rizz is shanghaied and winds up in a circus sideshow as the half-man, half-animal Carrizo! The Doctor is rescued from jail by a woman he met briefly at the Exposition who is convinced that he is her husband, Edward, who has been missing in Africa for a year.

Three plots, all intertwined but separate. Charley impersonates the female half of the French couple to avoid an international incident. The Doctor helps his benefactor by impersonating her husband so that she can keep their house. C'Rizz escapes from his captor and gains a measure of revenge. This story is no grand science fiction space opera, it's just a simple little comedy of errors. It's also the most endearing Paul McGann Doctor Who story in ages. McGann excels at the whimsical, and there are plenty of whimsical moments woven throughout this story, like the aforementioned street hustling scene. In fact, all the actors do excellent work here. India Fisher gives Charley an independent streak, in this story, that the character has lacked, and needed, for many appearances. And, Conrad Westmaas, unfortunately, is the only thing that usually makes C'Rizz interesting. This time, though, even C'Rizz has a compelling storyline.

In fact, the only downside is the horrible ending. The Doctor sees in the paper that the French dignitaries will be making an appearance at the Grand Exposition and goes to confront them, and get back to his ship. Meanwhile Charley and C'Rizz are actually impersonating the French couple, to stave off an international incident. They are all reunited (in another great whimsical moment which finds Charley complimenting her disguise, "not even my mother would recognize me," immediately followed by the Doctor finding her and yelling, "CHARLEY!"), the TARDIS suddenly reappears and they all leave. The End. Ugh. Oh, and as a post script, the woman's missing husband also suddenly appears and they are reunited. Double ugh (even though it is a heart-touching moment). There is absolutely no explanation given as to why the ship took off in the first place, nor why it returned right then. No explanation as to where the missing husband has been, nor why. No explanation for anything, really. The only plot that they seemed to follow-through on completely is the one involving C'Rizz.

For this release, I have to say that less science and more fiction adds up to another winner for Big Finish, but only because of the enjoyable journey and despite the ending.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


From a conversation I had earlier today at work:

Jeremy: "I'll eat anything."

Me: "Well, then, I'm definitely going to keep you away from my kids."

Big Finish

My favorite television show of all time has got to be Doctor Who. The main reason why is simple, the program can become anything at any time. Because the title character wanders through time and space, his adventures can take any shape that a writer can imagine... Straight historical drama, murder mystery, grand space opera, spy thriller, whatever... the show has been all of these and more throughout it's 20 years on the air. In addition, making the main character an alien that is able to regenerate when needed also allows the makers to continue the show as various actors come and go. The show premiered on the day John F Kennedy was assassinated and was originally cancelled in 1989. Fan interest continued, and even grew, after it's cancellation so the BBC teamed up with Universal to make a US TV movie version in 1995. Unfortunately, that did not lead to a return of the series, at least not directly. In 2004, the very successful producer of the BBC program Queer As Folk was offered the chance to do any show he wanted by the BBC. He chose to bring back Doctor Who. While his vision of the show is not exactly the same as mine, the modern version of the program finds the magic back in full force.

I didn't sit down and start writing this as a review of the 2005 Doctor Who. I just wanted to give a little background to the subject I did plan to write about, Big Finish Productions.

It seems best to describe Big Finish as the little company that could, or maybe they were just in the right place at the right time. The BBC had sold the publishing rights of Doctor Who to Virgin Books, and the Virgin "New Adventures" series was experiencing steadily increasing sales as reader eagerly anticipated each month's newest Doctor Who adventure. Meanwhile, a small group of fans of the television program began making fan-fiction "audio plays" based on the original television series. Thanks to the ever-increasing fan base, and the internet, these audio adventures began to get traded far and wide. Realizing that there might be a good business model in there somewhere, the fans formed a company (although it wasn't called Big Finish... yet) and began polishing their craft, pressing actual CDs of the "audio plays" and selling them on the internet. The next step was taken soon after when they hired several actors who had actually appeared in Doctor Who to participate in their audios. Thankfully, they were also savvy enough to understand copyright laws and disguised the characters in their audios. For instance, they hired Sylvester McCoy to play the Doctor, but called their version of the character "The Professor," and when they hired Colin Baker for the role, they called the character "The Stranger." (A side note: These series were so successful that they continue today, even after the founding of Big Finish)

Someone, somewhere within the BBC hierarchy got ahold of a few of the CDs. I imagine it was someone meant to pour through them looking for possible copyright infringement lawsuit material. Whatever the case, they must have been impressed with the program's quality, because soon after the BBC offered the rights to the Doctor Who universe to the company. The original company spun off Big Finish (the original still exists and still does the "copyright safe" stories, here, but have since evolved their own fictional universes completely free of the "Doctor Who clone" stigma.)

Just last week Big Finish released their 77th Doctor Who adventure. It is called "Other Lives" and stars Paul McGann as the Doctor. On television, his only appearance in the role was in the 1995 TV movie. Since starting the the Doctor Who releases the company has since also begun releasing other series, like Doctor Who spin-offs (Daleks, Cybermen, Sarah Jane Smith, UNIT, Gallifrey, Unbound) and other well-known properties (Judge Dread, Sapphire & Steel, The Tomorrow People, Earthsearch) as well as others.

So, although I originally started this post as a review of the most recent release, for brevity's sake I'll simply finish with a list of the best of Big Finish's Doctor Who output (in no particular order), which are generally regarded equal to the very best Doctor Who stories ever conceived.

The Holy Terror

The One Doctor

Chimes of Midnight

Spare Parts


Doctor Who And The Pirates

The Fires of Vulcan


Creatures of Beauty

Arrangements For War

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Christmas Music

Find these through whatever sources you use, ITunes, Grokster, Napster, or whatever, compile them in the order listed and then you, too, can celebrate Christmas the Hurple family way. Oh, WARNING! Some of these songs are not 'kid friendly' in a Santa Claus way.

1. Christmas Time (Is Here Again) - The Beatles
2. Marshmallow World - Los Straitjackets
3. A Christmas Song - Jethro Tull
4. Dig That Crazy Santa Claus - The Brian Setzer Orchestra
5. Run Run Rudolph - Chuck Berry
6. Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight) - The Ramones
7. The Chipmunk Song - The Chipmunks
8. Father Christmas - The Kinks
9. I Believe in Father Christmas - ELP
10. Christmas All Over Again - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
11. Little Saint Nick - The Beach Boys
12. Come On Christmas - Cheap Trick
13. Riu Chiu - The Monkees
14. Christmas in Hollis - Run DMC
15. 2000 Miles - The Pretenders
16. Holly Jolly Christmas - Burl Ives
17. Christmas With The Devil - Spinal Tap
18. 12 Days of Christmas - Bob & Doug McKenzie
19. Christmas Weekend - Los Straitjackets
20. Happy Christmas (War is Over) - John Lennon

Monday, December 12, 2005

Dave Davies: Anthology - Unfinished Business

While Ray Davies is the most recognizable member of the Kinks; as lead singer, main songwriter, producer and resident "genius" of the group; his brother Dave Davies was always just as important a piece of the puzzle. Dave's songs are not as numerous, nor as well-known as Ray's, but are also quality songs.

After 40 years in the business, and as a member of the Kinks, Dave certainly deserves this 2-disc collection highlighting his contributions to the band most closely associated with the genius of his sibling. Disc 1 focuses on Dave's contributions to the Kinks, opening with his stinging, stunning guitar work on "You Really Got Me" and "All Day And All Of The Night" before shifting to spotlight Kinks songs featuring Dave Davies as lead singer. Having all these great songs co-exist side by side rather than doled out one or two tracks at a time on album after album truly shines an illuminating new light on brother Dave's talents. The man is a great songwriter in his own right and only in a band with the songwriting genius of Ray Davies dominating the material would an artist of Dave's talents be regulated to second string. Highlights include "I'm Not Like Everybody Else," "Death of a Clown," "Love Me 'Till the Sun Shines," "Strangers," "Living on a Thin Line," and "Look Through Any Doorway." Even the few misfires here, like "There is No Life Without Love," and "This Man He Weeps Tonight," prove that, although big brother Ray may have been blessed with a sharper pen and superior vocal range, Dave could have been a fine frontman for the Kinks, himself. Be sure not to miss the wonderful, previously unreleased, "Mr Reporter."

Disc 2 focuses on Dave Davies' solo recordings, and includes some modern recordings of material released on some of his earlier solo albums, long considered to be the ultimate sin among most music collectors. Although the re-recordings balance the set out nicely, they still form a very unwelcome intrusion upon the Anthology concept of the collection. That said, this set proves an enlightening primer on Dave Davies neglected solo output. While the quality of material is less than what he supplied to the Kinks (and really would you save your best material for a solo album that nobody would buy or give them to a band project that would at least sell a few), it is still a fine collection of, mostly, forgotten gems. Highlights on this disc are 1980's "Imagination's Real," and a live recording of "Unfinished Business."

In fact, my main, major, complaint is the sound quality of the collection. Oddly, everything on these discs sounds like poorly mastered early 60's recordings, even the songs recorded as late as 1998. I'm not sure why the collection is so poorly mastered, especially since the Kinks' catalog recently received a grand remastering for their most recent spate of re-releases.

It is imperative here to point out that the copy of this collection I am reviewing is the European release, not the American. The American release, hampered by legal problems, features no Kinks material from 1966 - 1970, and is therefore shorter and much less fulfilling. It is definitely worth the extra coinage to get the European version, an all-around much better reflection of Dave Davies' 40-year musical career.

So, while the material in this collection is, mostly, first-rate, a massively botched mastering job renders this a middling release. I want to rate this set highly because it is brimming with wonderful, if forgotten, songs, but honestly can't see myself subjecting my ears to the displeasure of the sound quality again. This release rates a toaster, a cool item to have, but one that can be done without.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Scoop 4

There's a free album from Pete Townshend (sorta) here.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Stupid Internet Stories

You know those stupid little stories that get passed around the 'net from person to person via email, and when they finally get to you there's a "forward trail" about 2,256 names long? Here's one that got passed to me. It's a great one!

I was sitting at my desk, when I remembered a phone call I had to make. I found the number and dialed it. A man answered nicely saying, "Hello?" I politely said, "This is Patrick Hanifin and could I please speak to Robin Carter?" Suddenly the phone was slammed down on me! I couldn't believe that anyone could be that rude. I tracked down Robin's correct number and called her. She had transposed the last two digits incorrectly.

After I hung up with Robin, I spotted the wrong number still lying there on my desk. I decided to call it again. When the same person once more answered, I yelled "You're a jackass!" and hung up. Next to his phone number I wrote the word "jackass," and put it in my desk drawer.

Every couple of weeks, when I was paying bills, or had a really bad day, I'd call him up. He'd answer, and I'd yell, "You're a jackass!" It would always cheer me up.

Later in the year the phone company introduced caller ID. This was a real disappointment for me; I would have to stop calling the jackass. Then one day I had an idea. I dialed his number, then heard his voice, "Hello."

I made up a name. "Hi. This is the sales office of the telephone company and I'm just calling to see if you're familiar with our caller ID program?" He went, "No!" and slammed the phone down. I quickly called him back and said, "That's because you're a jackass!"

The reason I took the time to tell you this story, is to show you how if there's ever anything really bothering you, you can do something about it. Just dial 823-4863.

[Keep reading, it gets better.]

The old lady at the mall really took her time pulling out of the parking place. I didn't think she was ever going to leave. Finally, her car began to move and she started to very slowly back out of the slot. I backed up a little more to give her plenty of room to pull out. Great, I thought, she's finally leaving.

All of a sudden this black Camaro comes flying up the parking isle in the wrong direction and pulls into her space. I started honking my horn and yelling, "You can't just do that, Buddy. I was here first!" The guy climbed out of his Camaro completely ignoring me. He walked toward the mall as if he didn't even hear me. I thought to myself, this guy's a jackass; there sure are a lot of jackasses in this world. I noticed he had a "For Sale" sign in the back window of his car. I wrote down the number. Then I hunted for another place to park.

A couple of days later, I'm at home sitting at my desk. I had just gotten off the phone after calling 823-4863 and yelling, "You're a jackass!" (It's really easy to call him now since I have his number on speed dial.)

I noticed the phone number of the guy with the black Camaro lying on my desk and thought I'd better call this guy, too. After a couple rings someone answered the phone and said, "Hello." I said, "Is this the man with the black Camaro for sale?"

"Yes, it is."

"Can you tell me where I can see it?"

"Yes, I live at 1802 West 34th street. It's a yellow house and the car's parked right out front."

I said, "What's your name?"

"My name is Don Hansen."

"When's a good time to catch you, Don?"

"I'm home in the evenings."

"Listen Don, can I tell you something?"


"Don, you're a jackass!" And I slammed the phone down. After I hung up I added Don Hansen's number to my speed dialer. For a while things seemed to be going better for me. Now when I had a problem I had two jackasses to call. Then, after several months of calling the jackasses and hanging up on them, it just wasn't as enjoyable as it used to be. I gave the problem some serious thought and came up with a solution:

First, I had my phone dial Jackass #1. A man answered nicely saying, "Hello."

I yelled "You're a jackass!", but I didn't hang up.

The jackass said, "Are you still there?"

I said, "Yeah."

He said, "Stop calling me."

I said, "No."

He said, "What's your name, Pal?"

I said, "Don Hansen."

He said "Where do you live?"

"1802 West 34th Street. It's a yellow house and my black Camaro's parked out front."

"I'm coming over right now, Don. You'd better start saying your prayers."

"Yeah, like I'm really scared, Jackass!" and I hung up. Then I called Jackass #2.

He answered, "Hello."

I said, "Hello, Jackass!"

He said, "If I ever find out who you are..."

"You'll what?"

"I'll kick your butt."

"Well, here's your chance. I'm coming over right now Jackass!" And I hung up.

Then I picked up the phone and called the police. I told them I was at 1802 West 34th Street and that I was going to kill my gay lover as soon as he got home.

Another quick call to Channel 13 about the gang war going on down W. 34th Street.

After that I climbed into my car and headed over to 34th Street to watch the whole thing.

Glorious! Watching two Jackasses kicking the crap out of each other in front of 6 squad cars and a news helicopter was one of the greatest experiences of my life!

Brian Wilson Presents Smile

In 1967, the Beach Boys were in the studio working on what was going to be their masterpiece, the album Smile. However, during the course of the recording sessions, resident Beach Boys svengali Brian Wilson suffered a series of nervous breakdowns that left him unable to finish the work. Over the course of the rest of their career, a few of the Smile songs were re-recorded or finished and slipped out on various albums, but the entire piece was abandoned and forgotten by the band.

Until 2004.

That year, Brian Wilson's newest backing band, The Wondermints, had been touring and performing the Beach Boy's album Pet Sounds in its entirety each night. All the while, the band's musical director was pushing Wilson to do more and more Smile material. At the end of the tour, Wilson's confidence (in himself and in the band) was up. He did more than work up the Smile songs with his current band, he actually finalized the concept behind the album and took the band in the studio to (finally) record the album in it's entirety.

True, most of the songs have been heard before, as Beach Boys songs (Our Prayer, Heroes & Villains, Cabin Essence, Wonderful, Surf's Up, Vega-Tables, and Good Vibrations most notably) but the new recordings are as spot on close to the originals as is possible. Using the original Beach Boy's master tapes as a guide, each part was painstakingly re-recorded in the same studio that hosted the original sessions in 1967. In fact, some of the new recordings are so perfect that upon first listen I was convinced that Wilson just had his new band lay simply add overdubs to the old tapes to finish the songs. (I still swear I can hear Carl Wilson's distinctive harmonies on several tracks.)

It could have been a disaster, instead it's a work of genius.

There are a few moments where the 40-year-old idealism shines through as quaint, but those moments are surprisingly few and far between. There is also a saxophone solo on one track that never would have sounded so "adult contemporary" had it been recorded by Wilson in 1967.

Those moments aside, this collection of songs is still, even in its "not the Beach Boys" watered down form and even by 2004 standards, a complete artistic triumph and work of unparalleled musical genius. Had these songs been finished and the album been released in 1967, I have no qualms against stating that it would be The Beach Boys Smile album, and not The Beatles Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, by which we would now define as the soundtrack to the hippie movement of the late 60's.

Easily, it's the best album of 2004. It should have been the best album of the 60's.

In fact, both me and the Fonz give this one two big thumbs up!

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Okay, that's enough now.

That's plenty, thanks!

No more, please, we've got enough now.



Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Rolling Stones: Rarities 1971-2003

Some albums smack of "contractual obligation." This is one of them. In fact, this may be the most odious offender to carry that mantle... EVER. Slap a bunch of best-forgotten crap all together on one disc, give it a completely innocuous name, ship it to stores, and pass it off to fans as something special. I played this CD once, about a week ago. I still have not managed to get the smell of crap off my CD player, even after multiple applications of the compilation seriesWhen the Sun Goes Down and Camper Van Beethoven's New Roman Times. Did the world really need the dance mix of "Miss You," or the insultingly horrid "NY Mix" of "Harlem Shuffle" (a middling Stones re-make anyway) in wide release? And if a song is already on an older album, and that older album is still in print and wide release, can it truly be considered "rare?" Apparently, if the song is "Wild Horses" and it comes from the mid-90's Stripped CD, it can.

Once again, the Rolling Stones have proven that the money is more important than the credibility, that the marketing savvy of Mick Jagger ranks higher than the musical integrity of Keith Richards. So, I hate to say it, since at heart I am a Stones fan, but because this album smacks of a band taking advantage of its fans, I'll have to give it one of these

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Camper Van Beethoven: New Roman Times

Pre-Cracker there was Camper Van Beethoven. After a 15-year layoff, seeing the formation and dissolution of David Lowry's other musical vehicle, Cracker, the rebellious and decidedly weird spirit of the northern California band has been successfully resurrected. Lowery has said in interviews that the band simply chose to ignore the passage of time since 1989 and makes no attempt to sound like a "modern version of themselves." Of course, "Modern" is a relative term to a band like Camper Van Beethoven who mix modern rock styles and instruments with pre-rock "western" styles and toss in plenty of "eastern" musical seasoning to turn the whole thing into a timeless mish-mash of style and substance. While the album is not as overall as avant-garde as earlier Camper Van Beethoven releases - most songs from this collection would not sound out of place on any given modern rock station - it retains Lowry's singular intellectual and musical bent.

That said, New Roman Times is both their most modern-sounding recording and their grand return to form. In fact, this strange rock opera on the subject of creeping neo-conservativism, religious whackos, and red vs. blue states may just be Camper Van Beethoven's best album ever. From the sweeping anti-war anthem "Might Makes Right" to the fun of "Hippy Chick" it's Lowry's most focused musical and lyrical collection, so far. This collection aims for the heart of the main concerns for thirty-somethings who came of age in Reagan's America, and, more often than not, hits the bullseye.

Even now, a year after its release I find this album slipping into my CD player quite often, certainly more often than most other releases from 2004.

I think Tony the Tiger can best sum up my thoughts on this 2004 Camper Van Beethoven release:

Monday, December 05, 2005

When the Sun Goes Down

I've been listening to this series, which I recently 'acquired,' and will right now publicly declare this my favorite Blues compilation series ever. After listening to this series, you'll have a terrific grasp of the blues, and a good knowledge of several other forms which combined to become early "Rock 'n' Roll."

Four of the releases in this series highlight individual artists, Leadbelly, Sonny Boy Williamson, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup and Blind Willie McTell. A working knowledge of each of these artists is essential to truly understanding the Blues as an art form, but they're generally overlooked and forgotten, or minimalised, in most Blues "History" compilations. Honestly, granting each artist their own disc in the series is one of the main factors in my naming this my favorite Blues compilation ever.

Another factor in my declaration is the wonderful, sweeping range of material that fills the other 7 discs in the series. Memphis jug band music mingles with south-side Chicago blues and Mississippi Delta country blues throughout the collection. Some of the segues can be jarring, but the juxtaposition of such interrelated but differing styles just shows what a wonderful artistic tapestry blues music can be.

In lieu of trying to further describe the contents of these discs, visit the set's homepage and check the samples, here. Or, visit Amazon and check samples, here.

I can only hope that those responsible for this series of discs is just getting started, and the 11 discs released thus far is just a teaser of what is to come.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Your end of 2005 "what's funny" guide

Midgets - funny

Monkeys - not funny

Monkeys with guns - funny

Midgets with Monkeys - not funny

Midgets with Monkeys with Guns - funny

Republicans - not funny

Republican Midgets - funny

Fat People - not funny

Fat Republicans - funny

Elevators - not funny

Fat People stuck on Elevators - funny

Staplers - not funny

Monkeys Stapling Fat People - funny

Fat Republicans getting Stapled by Monkeys while Stuck in an Elevator With Midgets - funny

Phone Calls - not funny

Phone Calls from Monkeys - funny

Comedy - not funny

Horror - funny